Steart Marshes is one of the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust’s newest reserves, created in 2014, and welcomes nearly 50,000 visitors every year.
The saline lagoons are of great importance to breeding and wintering bird species at the site, but a number of the lagoons and scrapes were suffering from erosion, sediment build up and poor infrastructure for managing saline/freshwater exchange. Since the site became tidal in 2013 the number of breeding and wintering birds has increased each year resulting in the habitat reaching capacity, causing increased predation and nest loss as birds use the less protected habitat edges.
Funding of £74,408 from Biffa Award enabled improvement work to be undertaken on 14.7 hectares of land to increase the area and quality of habitat available by improving the shape and topography of scrapes, adding a layer of shingle to increase suitability for breeding waders, installing a new tidal structure to allows for more accurate and efficient control of the water levels, dredging of a lagoon within the main intertidal area, creating a permanent bund to increase available habitat and creating a series of freshwater scrapes within low-lying areas to provide vital feeding and refuge areas for breeding and wintering waders.
The work will benefit up to 28 species including waders, breeding birds, migrant waders and ducks, as well as bats and brown hares and will protect saline lagoons, upper saltmarsh and mudflat habitats.
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